Sports

D’ Tigress’ protest over poor treatment sparks row

…African champions vow to boycott future competitions

The recent protests by the members of the Nigeria women basketball team, D’Tigress, have sparked rows across the country as calls for proper investigation into the issue of unpaid wages and grants grow. Some of the players in a viral video on social media demanded for all their unpaid bonuses while threatening to boycott next year’s World Cup qualifiers. Speaking through Captain Adaora Elonu the D’Tigress said they want better preparation for major competitions.

“We demand the payment of the money owed the players, officials, and other volunteers,” Elonu said. “We want adequate travel plans to competitions and a Team Manager for all team’s functions. If these demands are not met, with all due respect to the Presidency, Nigeria Basketball Federation, and the Ministry of Sports, all D’Tigress players will not be reporting to the FIBA World Cup qualifiers in 2022 in February.

We are one united voice.” Ify Ibekwe who was a star at the FIBA Afrobasket Championship in Cameroon won by D’Tigress said: “We are being owed $73,180 by the NBBF, $24,000 by the Ministry of Sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics grant, and $100,000 from donations from three banks in Nigeria.” On her part, Ezinne Kalu felt D’Tigress were marginalized and that all their demands were left unattended to ever since their former Team Manager resigned under cloudy circumstances.

“Musa Kida (NBBF president) was not in Cameroon but somehow showed up in Abuja to take pictures and to raise the trophy again for political gain,” she lamented. There was an insinuation that the TM was asked to go after demanding improvement on the players’ welfare. However, speaking on aradio programme on Wednesday, monitored by our correspondent, aformercaptainof theD’Tigress, Mfon Udoka, said the players have the right to protest, claiming that things like that had been happening for so long.

“It’s unfortunate but it’s part of the course with our sports federations in Nigeria; you know we do a good job of honoring kings who do things with our achievements, but I feel that should now be in the past. Honestly, there are many other payments that we never received even during our time, so this is nothing new, I am not surprised. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has revealed that all the outstanding money owing all various athletes especially the women’s basketball team, D’Tigress, are still lodged in the ministry’s account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria. According to a release by the ministry, signed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Ismaila Abubakar, the ministry denied allegations made in a press statement used in a section of the media and in a video clip that its officials shared some monies donated to the men and women basketball teams ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“The Ministry wishes to make the following clarifications that the $230,000 Dollars donated to the Basketball teams by the Banks under the Adopt-a-Team programme of the Ministry is intact in the Nigeria Basketball Federation’s (NBBF) official domiciliary account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),” the statement read.

“That only the 12 female team members of D’Tigress have supplied their foreign account numbers. The Ministry waited for the account numbers of the male team to be supplied so that the processing of payments can be one off as requested by the CBN. “The Ministry has requested the CBN to commence the processing of the payment to the female basketball players immediately.

The male will be paid as soon as their account details are supplied. “Ministry wishes to state further that all outstanding -Olympics and Paralympics Games allowances and bonuses are being processed and only slowed down by funds availability. “Furthermore, the Ministry of Finance has been fully furnished with details of the outstanding allowances and payments due to the NBBF and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and efforts are being made to secure the release.”

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